Last week, we had the privilege of getting to join the Young Writers Project in a webinar to talk about their community and writing, as well as to hear from some of the members of YWP and others, such as a sixth grade class and one of our fellow alchemists on our NetNarr tour!

Before that, we got to take some time exploring the website and getting a feel for the YWP community, as well as the voice of today’s youths and what they are writing about. One of the things that struck me was of how aware a lot of the pieces are – these young writers are very keen on the things going on in the world around them, especially in political and social contexts. A lot of their pieces reflect on the upsetting realities that are the consequences of a certain orange man’s political actions. They are aware of how it’s affected and will affect their lives, lives of loved ones, and even people they do not know but wholeheartedly empathize with. These are some essays/poems on LGBTQIA representation, general concern about the state of the world, and even perceived identity and how people use their words to hurt others.

That’s special, honestly, and says a lot about the younger generation. They are educated, open-minded, and most of all, they are listening- they’re listening to people and stories around them, and breathing those experiences and feelings into their own work, which itself channels a very powerful message to anyone who reads it. Additionally, they don’t have a “faked interest” in any of these topics – they are writing about what they WANT to write about, what truly inspires, frustrates, and fuels their interest. They aren’t writing a letter to the President because of a prompt or as a general idea, but because they genuinely want to express themselves and try to get someone to hear them who isn’t listening.

I also noticed how supportive the community is toward each other. These young writers comment on each other’s work, saying parts that they enjoyed, and even provide constructive criticism in a very tactful and kind way. They even have the option to “sprout” off each other, which lets them create a piece of work that would be inspired from the original piece- it seems some see it as the highest form of flattery, but as we were told by some of the writers in the webinar, it can come across wrong to some authors. However, it seems like it is generally received as a positive reaction to a person’s work. Also, I wanted to point out that even during the webinar, these young writers were very supportive of each other’s work; for example, after Isabelle read her poem, Adelle praised her about the power of her words and voice in the message of her work (by the way, everyone shared very moving and wonderful poems, and it was a real treat to hear at least two of them read by their authors!).

Thus, I am excited we still have our time with the YWP as we enter the NetNarr workshop experience and experiment with sounds and storytelling. I’ve used Audacity before, so I feel like I’m generally familiar with splicing together sounds and audio editing. I once created the music for my sister’s skating program about seven years ago by mixing together Bond songs (I wish I had the file to share with y’all, but alas, that music is lost in the cyber void). While I recorded some sounds after class on Wednesday, I didn’t find them all that intriguing; additionally, there’s nothing in my morning routine that really caught my attention to capture. However, I did go back home this weekend on the train, and there’s something musical about its commute. The rattling of the train on the checks, the broken doors slamming every time someone entered or left the car, the distant chatter of women returning home from New York after a cold and blistery day- I decided to break out my recorder and capture around a minute of that. I think some of the sounds were ultimately lost in the recording, but, if you close your eyes, it still manages to teleport you to as if you were on a train.

(i also wrote a little haiku after i posted it to our YWP group, inspired by my trip on the train)
the train moves along
white snow on dirty gray tracks—
a girl checks her phone

I also used the recording app to experiment with sound in another poem that I’ve been writing, so it’s been helpful in being able to more readily hear myself and work on the audio performance of the piece! I might bring it in for class on Wednesday when we share our creative works with the class.

 As we transition from the train and back to the bus, I’m looking forward to heading toward the Australian coast and exploring the idea of the storied campus and hearing what the other side has to say. Although, I’ll say it now, I don’t think I have many stories about Kean- and if I do, I know they aren’t all that positive (sorry!). Haha, maybe some of my other classmates can convince me of fleeting good moments they had in a particular place that can help paint my vision of this place more kindly.